Photos Courtesy of Joel Reimer

James Cameron – Challenging The Deep (Exhibit Summary)

James Cameron and his movies always get a mention or two here on Hollywood North Magazine. He is a Canadian filmmaker after all, and it just so happened there was an exhibit focused on at least two of his films, and his deep exploration of the deep. Yeah, I meant to do that. I also meant to cover this exhibit because it’s one of the most interesting ones to come to Vancouver. Unfortunately, photography and videos were not allowed to be done there, otherwise I’d be in some serious legal trouble (that model of the shipwreck was not part of the exhibit in case you’re wondering, it was outside the entrance). But despite not being able to photograph anything, I got some great and fascinating info behind how the research for Titanic and The Abyss were created through elaborate undersea exploration. I’ll tell you all about it so let’s get on with the coverage and explain what happens in there, and you might want to check it out yourself because it goes on all the way until the end of the year.


Letter to Dr. Joe McInnis – Upon arriving into the exhibit the first thing one is greeted with is a letter by James Cameron to Dr. Joe McInnis. Some interesting info about how James wanted to become an undersea explorer and Joe felt honoured to get such a great letter from a young man who would grow up to become one of the best movie directors of all time. It’s amazing to see that some people hold onto ancient written tributes like that.


Books – Kind of the gift shop proportion of the exhibit, but one of those look-but-don’t-touch deals. Interesting titles on Marine Biology and books written by Cameron himself, some art/film books as well as activities for the kids. Anyone who was interested in getting these titles could scan the QR code or simply check the actual gift shop on the floor below.


Explorer Exhibit – I might as well go into detail on everything that’s on display here because I couldn’t get pictures of anything, and everything was technically on exhibit here, but there are a few things I will separate into different sections. There was plenty of cool stuff on display from Cameron’s expeditions including scuba gear, undersea specimens, equipment, his little robots known as the ROVs, the detailed diving and deck plans which were mapped out interestingly, and even some bios of marine professors. So much I could talk about, but I’ll just get into the next section of interesting things on display

Movie Props, Costumes, and Equipment – I mentioned James had stuff from two of his movies on display, and he is a filmmaker after all. Otherwise, I don’t think this article would be here. Items from The Abyss and Titanic included original Titanic props and costumes, sketches and prototypes of the Deep Sea Challenger (as well as some of the parts), miniature models used in Titanic, and the original script where notes had been made. 


Videos – 4 Screens set up across the exhibit, they each showed some of James Cameron’s expeditions and what went into them as he explored the ocean in undersea vessels. In the Explorer Challenger Video, we saw the danger that James got himself into, which was quite scary and even crazy to see how deep he went. For the Innovator Titanic Short, that explained how the ROVS worked in discovering and analyzing the wreck of the titanic and how submersibles came along on the journey as well which was very cool. Some of the artifacts discovered in the ship were later replicated for use in the movie. Another short called Pioneer – The Abyss which featured the ROVs again and some behind the scenes involving his exploration for shooting The Abyss and some disadvantages involving the crew getting beached with Chlorine and a storm ruining the whole set at one point. There was also a double feature, the first being Catalyst – Aliens of the Deep which didn’t have much, but it featured cool creatures that live underwater and how one can see from the underwater camera’s perspective. After that was a quick Bismarck film that was a very detailed film showing what James Cameron had found, much like these other videos. Each one of them is worth a few minutes of time and you find yourself learning an incredible amount of info. 


Submarine Interior – Probably the biggest and most interesting feature of the exhibit, it would make somebody feel they were in a submarine, if the portholes had some oceanic viewpoint showcased in them, but instead it featured a few more models and sketches, like the ones I mentioned above. It also featured James Cameron’s yearbook from 1970, opened up to a page that revealed he excelled at science and jumped 2 grades. Funny, my brother jumped 1 grade yet progress was slow for him. 


Exploration Station – One of those interesting little games for kids who could listen to the sound of an animal through headphones and try to guess that creature. Not too many people came to it. Come to think of it, I don’t think any kids were interested.


The last thing of course was that model I mentioned. It was very well painted and looked just as good as when it was shown in the movie. Amazing how the model was created and the fact that James had it made after his first underwater expedition, and I like how big it was too. That’s about it. So like I said, go check out this exhibit and learn great new stuff. You can get tickets here.

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